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Rama Rajamouli: Meet The Unsung heroine Behind Bahubali Film

The film by JJ Rajamouli has for the first time taken a film beyond its heroes to make it a legendary work of a director and his work force. But here is a woman who stood behind him like a solid rock and she is Rajamouli’s wife Rama Rajamouli.

Industry knows her as the designer of costumes for the entire crew numbering thousandsbut she has gone that extra mile on barefoot. When the work order came for designing costumes just 10 months before ‘Bahubali – The Beginning” was to go on to sets, she roped in her friend Prashanti and the duo worked wonders to every tiny reflection of coulourful film traceable to lifestyle about 1000 years ago in history.

In one of her rare interviews given to the media, Rama has recollected the challenge to “Eenadu” , published on Sunday under women’s feature “Vasundhara”. Rama, who had worked with Rajamouli in his films “Yamadonga”, “Magadheera” and “Bahubali” took every detail of the costume meant for every actor and actress.

Bahubali director and JJ Rajamouli’s wife Rama, who is the film’s costume designer.

Whether it was for famous “Kattappa”, who has to wear a military uniform but at the same revealing his “slave” status to the Ruling family was a big challenge. They settled down for a light netted cloth with maginificent armoury abound it to show him in a real heroic stature. So was the design in clothes meant for a weapons trader, played by Kannada hero Sudeep, who visits
from Persia to sell swords to Kattappa and ends up his friend knowing his slave status.

Since Bahubali 2 was a sequel to the first, it did not have much variation in costumes but the fact that the part one was a grand hit in terms of immaculate work proves the point. With Prashanti, Rama had set on a voyage to find the suitable clothes for every character in the film from Avantika to Devasena to Shivagami.

“I never took it up as a job to do but as my own work to bring the best finesse and finish it on time,” she told Eenadu. Since Bhallaladeva give importance to royal look, he was given bright coloured costumes while Bahubali, the lead character prefers to mingle with everybody including his “Mama Kattappa” to have food, he was given lighter shade clothes, she explained.

For Ramyakrishna, who came off with a natural royal empress look, any saree in natural colours was fitting perfectly, said the person who never lost a moment not thinking about how different cast should look in the film. Just for a “uttareeyam” that is put on one side of the shoulder by males, she took one sample to Rajamouli on the sets of Bahubali 2. He reportedly said, “what colour is this?” Soon, she realised and returned to explore the entire stock used for Bahubali first part and came out with the right choice. “When Rajamouli said that, I was really anxious,” she said in her interview.

The biggest challenge came when selecting the costumes for thousands of soldiers of Mahishmati Empire and invading Kalakeya army in the first part. First they used armour made from fibre but when soldier could not move easily with it, she decided to switch it over to clothes, thus loosing almost a month in the process. Once decided, she moved fast and got them made from skin. Arm bands, necklaces and host of other ornaments were made with skin. For Kalakeya soldiers, the threat bands and neck bands were made from jute. For this hundreds of women from nearby villages of Ramoji film city worked continuously for ten months and Rama is proud that she could provide livelihood for so many people.

For Kalakeya soldiers, the uniform was made of skin but it required to be treated with oil and black painting from inside to protect the skin of soldiers, she explained recollecting her concern for the people who are wearing such dresses. Finally, when these uniforms were smelling, they had to destroy them all, she said.

For Mahishmati soldiers, the uniform was in cotton cloth but the huge quantity required was not readily available. So, they settled down for half-white, which is available in large quantity and applied vegetable colours on them, the way Kalankari clothes were manufactured. But nobody has such huge set up to apply vegetable colours in one place, forcing her to open a unit inside Ramoji film city itself. “The huge space available in Ramoji Film City came handy,” she noted.

Not just there. Rama also took it upon herself to cook food for the actors and actresses who were staying in Vasundhara guest house in Ramoji Film City. She cooked and prepared food for 25 crew members for over a month at the guest house. “It was like a family,” described Rama.

Another Rajamouli family member who played crucial role was Valli, wife of Rajamouli’s brother. Valli was just 19 when she entered the combined family of 13 members and she could adjust with everyone easily. “It is her management technique which helped her manage the entire Bahubali team to work cohesively and achieve the laurels,” she told in her interview to Eenadu.

“Bahubali – The Conclusion” is going to hit more than 6,500 screens wordwide and 800 of them in US alone. During the entire period of four years, Rama and Rajamouli spent their time away from home in studios and outside shooting locations. Now that the film is set for release next Friday, April 28, 2017, the question is not whether it would be a big hit but how big would it be?

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